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Life Cycle Assessment. Tomato ketchup. Introduction.

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life cycle assessment

Life Cycle Assessment

Tomato ketchup


In the industrialised world, there is an increasing awareness that the present food consumption patterns are far from sustainable. To reduce the negative environmental effects caused by the production and consumption of foods, and to avoid sub-optimizations, systems analysis studies are needed.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) which is a method for analysis and assessment of the environmental impacts caused by product systems, is a valuable tool for such studies.

For foods, the complete product system includes production of inputs to agriculture, agricultural production, industrial refining,storage and distribution, packaging, the household phase and waste management.

The purpose of an LCA study can be to compare alternative products, alternative life cycles for a given product, or the relative importance of different life cycle steps.

In its present state, the LCA method can offer guidance to industry and authorities in decision-making; it also furthers education.

Examples of food products that have been studied using LCA are wheat, tomatoes, bread, ham, pork and lamb, apples, beer and tomato ketchup.

lca of tomato ketchup
The objectives of the improvement assessment of ketchup conducted are:

to illustrate how LCA can be used by the food industry in production development;

to investigate the influence of the geographical location of certain processes;

To find ways to improve the product's environmental perfomance.

LCA of tomato ketchup
scope definition
The environmental impact categories taken into

consideration are primary energy use, global warming,

acidfication, eutrophication, photooxidant formation and

The generation of radio- active waste.

The study was carried out in close co- operation with a

Swedish producer of tomato ketchup, and an Italian

producer of tomato paste, which made it possible

to obtain much useful site-specfic data.

Scope definition
the existing product system
The existing product system

Briefly, the tomato paste (28-30 Bx = 31% dry matter) is

produced in the Mediterranean countries, in the areas

where the tomatoes are cultivated.

The tomato paste is packed in aseptic bags, placed in 200L

capacity steel barrels, and transported by ship and lorry to

Sweden where it is further processed (together with other

ingredients and water) into ketchup. The ketchup is

packed in plastic bottles made of polypropylene (PP)

with a barrier layer of ethylenevinylalcohol (EVOH);

each bottle contains 1 kg of ketchup.

the alternative product systems
The alternative product systems

Based on the experience gained while working with the

screening LCA six alternative product systems (including

processing, packaging and transportation) were


the inventory analysis and impact assessment
The inventory analysis and impact assessment

Basically, inventory analysis means perfoming material and

energy balances for the systems studied.

  • For screening, energy data were collected from specific

Producers (tomato paste, ketchup, raw sugar etc.)

  • For packaging materials and transportation, literature

data was used.

An impact assessment was carried out according to the

Nordic Guidelines on LCA for the categories global

warming, acidification, eutrophication and photooxidant



The contribution to the different environmental impacts were quantified with weighting factors; for each environmental effect, different sets were applied in order to test the results.


LCA is very valuable for incorporating environmental

aspects in the development of more sustainable food


Of the systems studied, the A2 and D3 systems show the

best potential for improvement.

Experience gained from the case study shows that perhaps

even more important than the final LCA results and

conclusions are the knowledge and the understanding of

the system aquired.